Functionally Funked

One of the best decisions I ever made in my adult life was to spend a year getting weekly therapy.  At the time, I felt trapped, hopeless, alone, and desperate – in a way that I’d felt many times in the past.  Thankfully, I was able to seek the help of a professional – two, in fact! – and learned to recognize the signs and how to cope with these feelings.  Which, unfortunately, have resurfaced lately.  Why?  I’m not sure.  But I have learned how best (for me) to cope with the “blue funk” I’ve found myself in:

First, regardless of what caused it, I cannot beat myself up for feeling down.  None of the “I should be happy but I’m not” Charlie Brown Christmas talk.  It’s okay for me to be sad and have no reason.  People have moods.  It happens.  It’s how you deal with it that counts.  Which brings me to…

…forcing myself to think positive.  When a slow-moving tourist has me pondering murder, I try to pick something I like about her.  When someone disappoints me personally and I start to think about how they’re not really my friend, I force myself to remember why I love them anyway.  Focusing on the positive as soon as possible prevents the negative thoughts from spiraling from “Why hasn’t my friend texted me in days?” to “OH MY GOD NOBODY LOVES ME!”

It may sound cliche, but the world seems less bleak when you have a reason to get up in the morning.  Like, a specific reason.  Work, errands, a playdate (ew).  And if that’s not enough, I try to manufacture a reason.  Lately, I’ve been playing music to get ready in the morning.  Music is a huge motivator for me, and I use Pandora Radio to keep me on my toes.  I never know when an old favourite tune will pop up, or if I might meet a new favourite song that day.  Waking up to music is my reason for getting out of bed, and it makes each morning – and subsequent mornings – something to look forward to.

One of the ways I can tell I’m in a funk is if I spend long periods of time at home…in my pajamas…avoiding the outside world.  But in a roundabout way, this just makes me feel more isolated.  Even though it may seem like a bother, it always helps me to go outside.  Whatever the weather, a long walk gives me sunshine and endorphins and chemical science happy-making things.

I feel like this is a given, but try reading a book.  Not only does it give you an escape while reading, it helps you escape other awkward situations, too:  One of the worst parts about feeling down is that it feels like wherever you go, people are asking “how are you?” and it can be really awkward to say “I’m depressed but functioning, how are you?”  I cringe every time a cashier or casual stranger says “Hi!  How are you?” and I’m expected to reply “Good, and you?” when I know that the “Good” part is a lie.  Ugh.  I like to use my current book adventures to distract from this question:  “Hi, how are you today?”  “Well, I just started this epic science fiction odyssey through alternate dimensions…”  this will either steer the conversation in a more comfortable direction or get the asker to leave you alone entirely.  Plus, books are rad.

Lastly, for me it always helps to get my hands dirty.  Getting creative gives you something to focus on besides your feelings and a sense of accomplishment that can boost your mood!  I love to work with my hands, but writing also helps, as does re-organizing my bedroom, de-cluttering my electronics, even cleaning.  Keeping busy with activities that occupy my brainspace is a must.

I’m by no means a professional.  If you or someone you love is feeling down and can’t cope, you should absolutely look into mental health care available in your city.  Sliding-scale and community outreach programs make it possible for everyone to live free from the funk.  Please seek help.  You’ll be glad you did.  I know I am.

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